Call for Papers: Motifs, Influences, and Narrative Strategies in the Epics of the Medieval East and West

Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, Turkey, 17–18 September 2020

Deadline: 30 March 2020

Organisers: Markéta Kulhánková (Masaryk University, Brno) and Ingela Nilsson (Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul/Uppsala University)

The impetus to organize this workshop is the research project A Narratological Commentary on Digenis Akritis (, currently ongoing at Masaryk University in Brno and funded by the Czech Science Foundation. The aim of the project is to prepare a book-length commentary discussing the treatment of narrative categories, narrative strategies, literary and oral techniques, motifs, parallels, and influences and also including a summary of historical and philological discussions concerning the poem.

Our ambition is to make this literary work accessible and understandable to a wider audience from different fields. Within the planned workshop, we aim to bring together scholars working on the Digenis poem and related Byzantine genres (in particular vernacular poetry and novels) with specialists in both western and eastern medieval epics. We would like to invite you to discuss the character of these narratives and common problems and challenges for literary historians dealing with medieval epics.

Topics for discussion include but are not restricted to:

• motivic parallels in epics across medieval Europe and the Near East
• the mixing of cultures in border epics
• medieval epics and other genres (influences, interaction)
• epical and other narrative strategies
• medieval epics and narratology
• orality and textuality

Please send an abstract (ca 250 words) for a 20-minute presentation to Markéta Kulhánková by 30 March 2020.

Conference: Mapping the Sacred in Byzantium: Construction, Experience, and Representation

Newcastle University, 20-21 September 2019

Registration deadline: 6 September 2019

The conference brings together scholars of Byzantium to explore novel ways to conceptualize and evaluate the production and representation of (sacred) space in the Byzantine world, aiming to contribute to the broader research on spatial paradigms and practices. It addresses spatial themes from the varying disciplinary perspectives of archaeology, art history, literature, and theology.

Full details, including programme and registration, can be found at:

Call for Papers: Writing Ancient and Medieval Same-Sex Desire: Goals, Methods, Challenges

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 30 June – 2 July 2020

Deadline: 1 December 2019

For several decades now, scholars have devoted attention to same-sex desire in both ancient times and the centuries that followed. Not surprisingly, there have been vigorous debates over how to go about it. These debates have been framed in various ways. Here are some examples:

× essentialism VERSUS constructivism;
× Foucauldian discourse analysis VERSUS approaches inspired by psychoanalysis;
× (the impossibility of) objective history VERSUS (overly) subjective history;
× perception of commonalities across time VERSUS rigorously historicizing insistence on the past’s alterity;
× positivism VERSUS imaginative reconstruction of contemporaneous receptions.

These dichotomies, which are both reductive and don’t exhaust the possibilities, continue to crackle with contention. They also continue to undergird and even disturb current scholarly endeavours.

We are looking for papers (30 minutes in length) in which scholars not only speak about primary source material but also reflect explicitly on the theoretical orientation of their work (see the dichotomies above for examples) and the purpose(s) of (their) scholarship on same-sex desire. An additional objective of this conference will be an edited volume of papers that will aim to showcase a variety of approaches to this important topic.

Please send proposals (c. 500 words) to Mark Masterson by 1 December 2019. If you have any questions, please send them to him at this address also.

In your proposal include

1) the primary source material/historical milieu to be discussed, and

2) the general theoretical basis of the work

The call for papers is also published online.

Ruth Macrides

Ruth Macrides

All members of SPBS, and the wider community of Byzantine Studies, will be deeply saddened, and many devastated, to learn of the death of Dr Ruth Macrides on Saturday 27 April 2019.

Ruth was Reader in Byzantine Studies at the University of Birmingham where she had worked for twenty-five years and where she was a much loved colleague and friend. We will miss her terribly.

Our deepest sympathies are extended to her family at this time.

Colleagues in Birmingham have set up a tribute page for Ruth:

Donations in memory of Ruth may be made to Médecins sans Frontières.